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'discriminatory discharge'

Amazon must reinstate worker fired after protesting working conditions, judge says

Amazon has to reinstate a warehouse worker it allegedly fired illegally in 2020, a judge says.

An administrative law judge, Benjamin Green, has ruled the company must offer Gerald Bryson his job back after "unlawfully" firing him, The Associated Press reports. Bryson's firing came after he led a protest against the company's working conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, and the judge said Amazon must also offer him the wages he lost due to the "discriminatory discharge."

Amazon has said it fired Bryson, who called for the company to take greater action to protect workers from COVID-19, for violating its vulgar language policy after he allegedly got into an argument with another employee at the protest.

On Monday, Amazon said it "strongly" disagrees with the judge's ruling and will appeal it.

"Mr. Bryson was fired for bullying, cursing at and defaming a female co-worker over a bullhorn in front of the workplace," an Amazon spokesperson said. "We do not tolerate that type of conduct in our workplace and intend to file an appeal with the NLRB." 

The National Labor Relations Board previously sued Amazon over Bryson's firing, alleging he was retaliated against. According to the AP, Green ruled that Amazon's investigation into Bryson was "skewed" and that the company wanted to fire him for his "protected concerted activity." 

After the ruling, Bryson told The New York Times that "for me to win and walk back through those doors changes everything," adding, "It will show that Amazon can be beat. It will show you have to fight for what you believe in."